Who Is Responsible for Personal Injury in a Rental Property?
When someone comes to harm in a rental property, it can be difficult for a person unfamiliar with the law to decide who is responsible for the event. And yet, it is helpful to know who is responsible for personal injury in a rental property – both for those who desire restitution and those who would like to prevent themselves from being blamed for no reason. So, we have prepared a short guide on the subject!
When the landlord is responsible for personal injury
Failing to acknowledge a hidden danger
The first case where a landlord is accountable for personal injury in a rental property is if they conceal information about potential danger spots. Things that fall under this category are things such as:
● Hidden basement access doors
● Uneven flooring
● Faulty light switches
● Fragile hand railing
● Stairsteps on the verge of collapse
Evidently, it is not exactly safe for such things to be in a home someone lives in. Of course, if you are made aware of such issues, you and your landlord can have them fixed. However, if your landlord conceals the knowledge to ensure you rent from them, then any injury to your person is their fault.
Refusing to perform repairs
Landlords are responsible for repairs on their property. Something like faulty wiring can cause a lot of harm to both the property and the tenants. As such, it needs to be handled before the apartment or house is considered safe to live in. If the landlord instead demands you pay for the repairs yourself, and a personal injury occurs, you are legally capable of demanding restitution.
Failing to perform repairs in a reasonable timeframe
Naturally, when discussing such repairs, it is equally important to handle them as quickly as possible. A landlord could be dragging out the repair time in hopes that you pay for it yourself. What exactly constitutes a ‘reasonable timeframe’ is, after all, somewhat murky. You should look for legal counsel as soon as it seems like your landlord may be using this strategy.
Not offering a way for tenants to report hazards
If your landlord doesn’t offer you a way to contact them, then you can’t report problems that pop up. And, given that communication between tenant and landlord is vital, such behavior is seen as highly irresponsible. Thus, the person held accountable due to hazards you could not report is the landlord.
Not having adequate lighting on the property
No one can adequately go about their daily lives without sufficient lighting. If your stairwell’s missing light bulbs or the light switches don’t work, it’s easy for an accident to occur. If one does occur due to the conditions, the landlord is responsible.
Not installing smoke detectors
It should be obvious why landlords should have a legal responsibility to ensure their property has working smoke detectors. The risk to both property and tenants is too high to justify skipping out on the expenses of installing them.
When the tenant is responsible for personal injury
There are two different types of tenants: commercial and residential. Residential tenants are simply people renting a place to live. On the other hand, commercial tenants rent out office or shop space and are personally responsible for it.
Inviting guests to unsafe premises
If repairs or renovations are in progress or the landlord is notified and working to fix a hazard, the tenants are responsible for themselves and anyone they invite into their home. Remember that this applies to every kind of ”invitation” extended. So, suppose you’re about to move into a new rental that’s a work-in-progress. In that case, it’s best to put off the relocation for your own and your movers’ benefit and any housewarming guests you plan on inviting until the problems are fixed.
This is especially important if you’re moving from somewhere distant. The repairs might take a while, and you may not have any place to stay or store your belongings. This, in turn, can lead to a lot of additional expenses. So, if you need to push date of your long-distance relocation, you should do so. And, remember to notify every important contact, first and foremost, your landlord and moving company.
Causing an accident
Obviously, if a tenant sustains an injury that cannot be attributed to the property, or if their personal belongings cause an accident, they are responsible themselves. A complex example is elderly slip-and-fall accidents. If they fall on their own, then the landlord is not responsible. It is only when other circumstances contribute, such as when the uneven flooring we have already discussed is in play, that the landlord would be held responsible.
If a personal injury occurs due to the mismanagement of the property by the commercial tenant, the landlord is not responsible. An example of this would be a customer getting hurt by stumbling over litter left on the shop’s floor.
Failure to maintain the property
A more severe responsibility falling on the back of a commercial tenant is to keep the property free of life-threatening hazards. Suppose the commercial tenant runs a laundromat and one of the machines is faulty and electrocutes someone. In that case, they are responsible for personal injury to their customers.
When the contractor or maintenance company is responsible
Finally, a landlord might use a contractor or a property maintenance company to keep their property in good condition. If the latter neglects their work, then in most cases, they are responsible for anything that happens in the rental property they oversee instead of the landlord. However, know that this is not the case in all states. A landlord could be held liable for negligent hiring. And some states maintain that the maintenance of a property is not a delegable duty. So, if you have questions about the exact laws and circumstances of who is responsible, it is wise to contact a professional.
Now that you know who is responsible for personal injury in a rental property in different scenarios, you should better understand how to approach the subject if you do encounter it. Just remember that there can be various extenuating circumstances that can affect the final result of deliberation.